AIM & IICSR organized a National Summit on Extractive Industry and Sustainable Development on 9th September 2017

AIM along with IICSR organized a National Summit on Extractive Industry and Sustainable Development held at Hotel Taj, New Delhi on 9th September 2017. The event saw a large gathering of eminent personalities from the government bodies related to steel, coal and power. The chief guest Hon’ble Chaudhary Birender Singh (Minister of Steel) inaugurated the event by sharing his insights on how extractive industry needs strict rules in terms of welfare of the employees and professionals working in the Extractive industry. Coming from an agricultural background, the chief guest pointed out two aspects of CSR; Contribution to the society and Infrastructure.  He adds, ‘Speedy development of any industry or nation does not mean that we are moving effectively’. This country needs its own technology and innovation in context to the large size of the population.

There were people from PSUs, private sector and academia who graced the event with their presence. A healthy discussion was held discussing the challenges and strong areas of the Extractive industry and how sustainable development is the need of the hour. The event also saw the unveiling of the compendium by the same name, authored by Prof. Saurabh Mittal (Asia-Pacific Institute of Management) and Ms. Harsha Mukherjee (IICSR).

An introduction of the event by Prof. Saurabh Mittal (Asia-Pacific Institute of Management) is how the summit was addressed. The discussion took an interesting twist when the emphasis was laid on Corporate Social Responsibility and why this element is crucial in making Extractive industry a safe place to work. Dr. Huzaifa Khorakiwala, Executive Director, Wockhardt Hospitals rightly pointed out the hazards that come in between while working in Extractive industry. He said that there is a need of Corporate Social Responsibility through which welfare of the employees can be achieved. He further pressurized on the point that how we can do our best to take care of people in the industry and what are the measures. Only 2% of the total estimates are what CSR is allowed to contribute in the welfare of the employees. Besides, disparity under CSR is not acceptable.

Another valid point came from Shri. Nanik Rupani, Former Chairperson, IACC, who emphasised that steel and mining industry, is largely the base for pollution and strict measures need to be taken to care for the environment. There has to be innovation and robust technology should be used in order to protect the environment. He quoted a verse from Bhagwad Gita ‘Change or Perish’ giving a hint that its time that we focus towards the sustainable development mode and add CSR initiatives which can change the lives of the millions. Utilizing low grade coal and steel to the best can have a positive impact in the industry. Coal and gas can be used simultaneously and reduction of waste or using the waste material and gases could lead to a bigger forward approach for the industry.

Wastages are not being looked after properly and hence we are lacking in the area of sustainable development. Dr. Pradipto Ghosh, Distinguished Fellow, TERI was of the opinion that we, as a nation or an industry, is stuck because of our attitude towards working out things. One should have a broader view of the world to tackle the challenges, especially in the Extractive industry. In the times to come, innovation has to take place. He emphasised on having a proper mining plan, a systematic manner of working so that we can develop water bodies creating source of livelihood for many. He also laid emphasis on backfilling and how it could help in realizing positive revenue scheme. Shri Gurdeep Singh, CMD, NTPC cited an example of the West where the people have seen industrial revolution some 300 years ago and now enjoying the benefits of the research and innovation done at that time. This led to a discussion as to what can we do to better our prospects on Extractive industry.

Another topic that caught the attention of the speakers and audience was biodiversity conservation. Existence of mining areas in dense forests is the reason for the sacrifice as far as bio-diversity is concerned. It plays a vital role in stabilizing the eco-system. Taking the discussion ahead was Shri. Ajay.N.Jha, Secretary Environment, Government of India, who addressed the gathering by sharing that managing our environment in terms of economic activity and maintaining biodiversity is crucial for sustainable development. The concepts of extraction should be clear in the minds of the people associated with the industry. Uncontrollable use of natural resources would lead to scarcity in the near future and there will be less that we can do to protect the environment and the needs of the workers of the Extractive industry. Metabolic rate can be reduced through resource efficiency. Resource intensive industry such as Extractive industry needs to be organized enough to think of the welfare of the employees. Use of barren lands can be smartly utilized for solar energy installation. We must be aware of the principles of re-cycling and re-use of waste material. Another concept that drew attention was that of Sustainable Consumption Pattern. This concept takes us back to the first few paragraphs of the piece where the pressure is made on the point related to e-waste. There is a lot that one can do to use the waste material or put in use the e-waste. Dr. Sayalee Gankar, Director, MIT School of Management had an interesting view on the topic. She shared that the youth is interesting in taking up different tasks pertaining to the welfare of the Extractive industry. If the institutions could be a part of such projects, there will be les chaos and more of productive approach related to sustainable development.

Shri R.K.Sachdeva, Former Advisor in the Ministry of Coal talked about 3 pillars of sustainability i.e. environmental protection, economic development and social development. In order to achieve these three pillars, the ground work has to be robust. Besides, rules and regulations and policies on sustainable development have to be strict and be adhered to. We lack in the area of implementation and its enforcement and supervision. The responsible way of extraction is important and extractive industry had started with the start of the human civilization and helped over the years. It is our duty to conserve and take the legacy forward by taking great measures in terms of extraction. The other eminent speakers also talked on the similar lines and discussed measures and suggestions as to what can lead to more growth and sustainability in the Extractive industry. AIM thanks all the eminent personalities, students, media people, corporate houses and government bodies for devoting their valuable time and making this Summit a huge success.